Fiction: Vision

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

January 1, 2011


Categories: Food

Homemade Tacos
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I wrote this for my food club in December.

December 2010

Veronica closed the walk-in cooler and loaded the six crates into the back of her lime green Volvo. Another sort done. She locked up the building, got in her car, and began the 2 mile drive to her neighborhood.

Sometimes the two miles meant 20 minutes, if the lights didn’t work in her favor, so she always used this time to reflect on the day or evening. A blur of scenes flashed in her mind. Giggles. Children scribbling wildly on small, vibrant tables. Crates stacked, loaded. Doors slamming to walk in coolers. Moms chatting. Printer printing. Keyboard keyed as invoices were updated.

Sometime ago, the club decided to make two days a month a mass sorting day. That meant, there were four sorting days total, with alternating weeks having the big orders. The first and third weeks were eggs, milk, and Azure. The first week added Frontier, and the last week added Hummingbird. Extra orders for coffee, herbs and supplements, butter, big meat orders, berries, bread, and produce were worked into the schedule. Delivery day varied, but pickups were limited to Thursday and Friday.

Food, always food was provided for or arranged. The club had non-profit status now, for three years, so sometimes fatigue required asking for a donation. Several local food providers were on the Rolodex and happy to accommodate the group and their sustainable, local desires.

Veronica thought about how much more convenient having the walk in coolers made preserving these fresh goodies. She would often giggle at how the club started, in the soggy rainy months under covered porches or not. The club really worked hard, and thoughtfully to ensure the community element remained a big part of how food is integrated. Most people chuckle at the “come for the food stay for the community” (stolen) tag-line because it’s so true.

Advice is swapped from parenting to cooking to sewing and knitting to just general life concerns. Most of the women, and while there are men, most of the members are driven by women, by default shared so many similarities that community was a natural born prodigy.

Veronica had six deliveries. 1 three streets over, 2 lived behind her, two on either side, and the sixth was hers. Other club “hub” representatives had taken their neighbors orders a few minutes before Veronica locked up. There were 20 members there tonight, and a good turnout of kids. Samantha made a delicious vegetarian pasta with a donation from a local pasta shop, another way the commercial-grade kitchen proved invaluable.

Some of the kids have grown up with the development of the club, and ones who used to wear training pants, were doing homework tonight, on Ubuntu based computers. Because the group opted for non-profit status, they were able to get computers, free, from a local computer resale non-profit. Finding inventive ways to keep overhead low is always an interesting challenge. The club was fortunate enough to work out a deal with the local development commission to get the space donated for 18 months while a plan was created to incrementally roll-in a leasing fee.

The space that is used was a restaurant, over and over, that never stuck. The real estate company could never get a good fix on a good tenant. Veronica, now having lived in the neighborhood for over a decade, was able to sell them on the 5+ years community and strong-hold the club has built. The space is big, and since the club doesn’t use it all the time, the space is shared with some entrepreneurs. Mondays it’s another taco-Mexican-food space, Tuesdays sandwiches, and Wednesday through Sunday a coffee shop.

It always makes Veronica’s heart beat a little faster and she feels flushed when she thinks of how far they came from all good intentions to making this stable community service. Sure, they provide food to 150 families, but that’s not all who’s serviced. So much knowledge is folded into the group, and they were finally able to establish a class schedule with members teaching their own specialities and raising funds for the club too.

Next year, the club will unveil its political action committee where they will really begin making policy changes.

Susan’s light is on as Veronica pulls up.

Another great sort, another great night. Buying together so together we do buy better.

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